The central Puget Sound region’s space industry is surging and has doubled its economic impact in recent years, according to a new analysis by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC).

The space industry accounted for $4.6 billion in economic activity in 2021, supporting a total of 13,103 jobs and $1.6 billion in labor income.

While the development of launch vehicles and other activities by Kent’s Blue Origin has been one source of growth, the advancement of satellite manufacturing and related services by Starlink, Project Kuiper, LeoStella, and other firms has also been a major source of new regional employment.

“Supporting the commercial space sector is an opportunity to expand on the region’s long aerospace history and build resiliency into the region’s economy,” said Commissioner Axel Strakeljahn, President of the Economic Development District Board. “This study offers valuable data and analysis that will help guide future efforts to support businesses involved in the space economy and grow these jobs throughout the region.”

“This study shows that one of the keys to our economic future and shared prosperity is to grow the local talent pipeline for the high skill jobs in demand for the space industry and other tech fields,” added Councilmember Claudia Balducci, PSRC President.

Here’s more from the PSRC:

Trends highlighted in the 2022 report include:

    • There has been a doubling in employment and economic activity in the regional space economy since 2018.
    • New startups in the region are adding diversity to the region’s space industry beyond the major employers, while adding new space related offerings.
    • Regional businesses are at the forefront of commercial human spaceflight, which is projected to expand.
    • Future development of the regional space economy would benefit from support for regional entrepreneurship, workforce development, and venture capital funding.

“The potential for our space ecosystem to lead the market is palpable, but action is needed to capture the opportunity,” said Emily Wittman, President & CEO of the Aerospace Futures Alliance and the Washington State Space Coalition. “The private space sector in Washington is missing out on the investment and attention given to space innovators in other states.”

This 2022 report provides fresh data building on the 2018 Washington State Space Economy report, which found that the central Puget Sound region is well positioned to be a leader in commercial space exploration and development into the future, given longstanding activity in the aerospace sector, high-tech manufacturing resources, information technology assets, and a strong pool of talent.

The 2018 report identified areas for future work to grow the industry. On the list: supporting space-related startups through expanded access to venture capital, business incubators, and other services; expanding the state’s robust aerospace supply chain to meet the needs of the burgeoning space industry, growing the local talent pipeline for the high skill jobs in demand for the industry; and targeting tax credits for space craft and satellite manufacturing.

PSRC’s Economic Development District Board initiated the study of the region’s space sector as a priority action for the regional economic strategy.

Analysis was performed by BERK consulting and the 2022 update was funded by the Aerospace Futures Alliance.  The original 2018 study was supported by contributions from Blue Origin, City of Kent, Suquamish Tribe, City of Redmond, Snohomish County, City of Federal Way, City of Everett, Port of Bremerton, and City of Seattle.

Download a copy of the 2022 Washington State Space Economy report.

PSRC develops policies and coordinates decisions about regional growth, transportation and economic development planning within King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. PSRC is composed of over 100 entities, including all four counties, cities and towns, ports, state and local transportation agencies and Tribal governments within the region.

PSRC supports the work of the Central Puget Sound Economic Development District, which is governed by a board composed of public and private members that meets quarterly to coordinate regional economic development planning.